Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Migrants on the Mall

After seeing that there had been a strong push of migrants last night, I decided to check out one of DC's migrant traps. I took the Metro over to the west end of the Mall and birded the areas around the DC WWI Memorial and Constitution Gardens. Birds other than starlings, house sparrows, robins, and the like are always a little sparse, but there were some good ones mixed in.

Starting out at the WWI Memorial, I heard Baltimore oriole, yellow-rumped warbler, and black-throated blue warbler in quick succession. A little digging turned up some wood thrushes and a singing veery. There were lots of brown thrashers and gray catbirds hanging around in the same wooded patch.

Moving on to Constitution Gardens, I found many more yellow-rumped warblers, which were everywhere today. Hearing a yellow warbler, I stopped to take a look. Instead of the yellow, I saw my life Cape May warbler. It was busy foraging in one of the locust trees at the west end of the lake. It was a male, with the orange cheek patches and lemon yellow head and breast. The best part was that it was at an easy viewing height and sat more or less out in the open for a long time.

From there I walked over towards the Vietnam Memorial and found a few more birds. (I do not take my binoculars down into the memorial, but walk around the outside.) A singing scarlet tanager gave great looks; after seeing it, I was sorry not to have included it in my top ten. Nearby a prairie warbler was singing its buoyant buzzy song. Among the many wood thrushes, I found a couple of lingering hermit thrushes. Those will not be around much longer.

These two areas are good migrant traps because of their relationship to the rest of the Mall. There are shady strips running the length of the Mall, but for most of its length, the trees are mostly American elms with high canopies and no understory. On both sides of the reflecting pool, however, there are fewer elms and more varieties of oaks, horsechestnuts, willows, and locusts. Along with the more diverse canopy, there is substantial understory in places, with plots of hollies, azaleas, and other shorter trees and shrubs.


Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Red-eyed Vireo
House Finch
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole